Jan 30, 2012

100th Anniversary of Francis Schaeffer's Birth

6 Min Read

Francis August Schaeffer was born January 30, 1912, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. He became a Christian at age 18 and faithfully served the Lord until he went to glory on May 15, 1984. In God's grace, his life and service was—and continues to be—mightily used of the Lord.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Schaeffer's birth.

Schaeffer & Ligonier

Not everyone is aware how even today Schaeffer's ministry echos in much of our work and that it was significantly formative in Dr. Sproul's original vision for Ligonier. Burk Parsons writes:

"During his ministerial tenure, R.C. began to speak at churches and conferences throughout the Midwest, and after two years at the church, he received the call to begin a study center near Pittsburgh. The idea was to provide a Christian study center modeled after Francis Schaeffer’s European study center, L’Abri. After speaking with Dr. Schaeffer on a couple of occasions, and after much thought and prayer, R.C. and his family relocated to the mountains of western Pennsylvania where Mrs. Dora Hillman had purchased fifty-three acres and constructed a building on the property. In 1971, they moved from the bustling city of Cincinnati to the quiet countryside of Ligonier. There they established the Ligonier Valley Study Center, and for thirteen years students came from around the country to study Scripture, theology, philosophy, apologetics, and church history. The students studied, slept, and ate in the Sproul’s home and in the homes of others in the study center community."

In this letter, R.C. Sproul Jr. shares his memories of meeting Francis Schaeffer in the early days of the Ligonier Valley Study Center.

What was Francis Schaeffer's biggest concern for the church in America?

Dr. Sproul recalls the following conversation with Schaeffer:

About thirty years ago, I shared a taxi cab in St. Louis with Francis Schaeffer. I had known Dr. Schaeffer for many years, and he had been instrumental in helping us begin our ministry in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1971. Since our time together in St. Louis was during the twilight of Schaeffer’s career, I posed this question to him: “Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest concern for the future of the church in America?” Without hesitation, Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word: “Statism.” Schaeffer’s biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.

Schaeffer's Published Works

For more information on Francis Schaeffer, please see the PCA Historical Center.